Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't Let Fear Hold U Back!

Sometimes we retard our progress in life. The fear of failure, the fear of what others will say, the fear of looking stupid, the fear of sucking. Why?

I still do it to myself. I hold my self back from getting my weight down. I'm scared I'll fail so i don't try. That's so bullshit. (Sorry Homer)

I used to feel fear when I was just training BJJ. I was shitting my self on the hour long drive down the coast, building up my anxiety in my head. Not so scared of getting hurt but scared of being bad and getting owned by everyone in the gym.

I use the word fear because it fits, any one who says they fear nothing is either really stupid or full of shit. I think fear is healthy and is just another emotion to be used in your favour.

Grappling is one of the only sports where u compete at nearly 100% with your team mates every time you train. This is why it is so practical, the techniques are all pressure tested. But it can also stunt peoples development in the art.

Whether we like it or not we all have some sort of competitive drive, some more than others. I didn't want to get tapped by anyone and I felt less of man if I got caught or even pinned by my team mates. My fears were holding me back.

Once i started to let go of the fear of failure I really started to get better. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a total noob at jits. I think that feeling will never leave me. BJJ is so complex, there is always areas to work on. It's a life long journey. But once I started to swallow my ego and just concentrate on the techniques and concepts, things started to come together.
I learned to use my fear when I trained. I used it to heighten my senses and focus in on the task at hand. Now when I roll at training it's really enjoyable. My fears have turned into something else.
When I'm totally immersed in the roll I'm almost emotionless, unaware of my surroundings but completely in tune with the movements and totally connected to the art. I don't have that feeling every roll but there are small sections of rolls I have with certain training partners that are almost out of body type shit. Flowing between transitions and submissions...... 
Man, I'm sounding like a hippie!! At least Slayer or Pantera is playing in the background at the gym and not Simon and Garfunkel.

I think there are lots of areas in my life I can apply this to. By letting go of my own bullshit, being aware of my fears and using them to commit to whatever it is I want to achieve. 
If I had let my fears get in the way I may have never even started BJJ or rang my beautiful wife for the first time. I would have missed out on two of the greatest things to ever happen to me.

Don't Let Fear Hold U Back!!

This is one of my favourite quotes.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 20, 2010

Grapple Tackle

Training is going really well, i can feel my game improving all the time. I'm really enjoying flow rolling at the start of class. Instead of learning a new technique at the start of every class we partner up and flow through all the moves we have in our arsenal.  I try not to repeat anything or block my opponents game but rather "flow with the go". It really keeps me thinking and gets a good sweat going.
Our coach uses this warm up as a chance to look a bit closer at our technique. He picked up a couple of things for me to work on which was super helpful. I use half guard from bottom a lot and he pointed out a way to use my legs more and use a sort of half butterfly position, great for sweeps and entry to the x-guard.
I've been working my sidecontrol escapes when flow rolling and when sparring more intensely with varied success. Sidecontrol is tricky to escape, especially if the top player is experienced. Improvements are being made though and i think after a few more weeks I'll have a much better game plan for when I'm in that position.

I retired from Rugby League 2 yrs ago when i started doing BJJ. I played for my local team the Gympie Devils for 10yrs and i was on the committee for 3yrs during that time. On the weekend they won the Grand final for the first time in the clubs history. It felt like the whole town was there to watch the game. I made some life long mates playing footy and I'm so happy to see the boys bring home the trophy. Go The Devils!!

I may have partied a bit too hard with the boys because i think my bloody flu is back. So i couldn't train tonight. But i plan on getting back in the gym twice before the weeks out. Seeing the boys win that game after so much hard work and commitment, has given me a lot of motivation to compete at my best against the best.
C u on the mat,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Escape Plan

In training for the next week or two i'm going to focus on escaping from sidecontrol. I've been working a lot on escaping when someone has my back over the last few weeks and it still need lots of work but i'm going to change the focus for a bit.
A familiar position when i roll with Coach Dunstan
I like to work on being comfortable in bad spots. I try to remain calm keep my elbows in, protect my neck then work the escape. When rolling with the upper belts being comfortable can be very tough and if i like it or not i'm going to have to work on survival and escapes.
But when i roll with new dudes, I sometimes let myself get in bad spots and work my escapes. I think this helps out both team mates. I get to work my escapes and they get to work on there top game and control. I know what it's like to feel helpless trapped under a more experienced grappler. It's how i spent the first 6mths of my training. So i think giving a little here and there really helps a newbie out and benefits my game as well. But I never give my opponent a submission when free rolling; they have to work for that shit. If they do tap me it is because of there skill and not me giving them a gift.

Here is a story from Saulo Ribeiro book Jiu-Jitsu University, he recalls the last time he trained with the 90yr old Father of Jiu-Jitsu Helio Gracie.

Helio said to Saulo "Son, you're strong, you're tough, you're a world champion, but i don't think you can beat me." Saulo looked sideways at the old man in disbelief. Thinking how a 90 year old man could beat someone in his athletic prime? But Saulo realized that Helio had not said he would beat Saulo but that Saulo could not beat him. Helio had put all the responsibility back on Saulo to defeat him. Helio did survive and Saulo was not able to impose his game on the late Master. Saulo had learnt one of his greatest lessons ever; it is not enough to be able to defeat all of your challengers. To be able to tell any man he cannot defeat you is to wield true power.

If you are starting out in BJJ and you have some cash to spare grab Saulos book. It's a technique book but has some great philosophy in there as well.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A faithful side kick

I think most blokes have one. You know ya right hand man, a wing man or home boy. I've got a few real close mates but my little hairy mate Steve is defiantly my faithful side kick. Now we had a somewhat heated debate over this. He proclaimed i was more Jay to him being Silent Bob(the resemblance is somewhat undeniable).
But seriously with out Steves help as my 'NavBitch' over the years i may not have stuck with BJJ. He's come on the 2 hour round trip to Caloundra with me for the last 12mths or so. He doesn't train, he just comes to keep me company on the trip. The first few months i did it by my self, and it was tough. Sometimes I would have little micro sleeps while i was driving on the way home after a long session, not cool. But with Steve in the car talking crazy shit with me I'm no chance of falling asleep.
Now Steve is what some people might say quirky, but i fukn love the angle he takes on things. Frickin hilarious. We are both massive heavy metal and mma fans so we rarely run out of shit to talk/argue about. Looking back we have had some rather deep conversations as well about life and the people in it.
So this is a thank you to my hombre Steve. A little part of my new belt belongs to you dude.

Sending out man love to my hetero-life-mate.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Feeling Blue

So after 20mths of training, and one hell of an arse kicking, I just received my blue belt.

Now i know i should be pumped and super excited but i honestly don't feel that way right now. I feel a little bit disappointed in my self. I wanted to be fit and ready and really kick arse the night i got my blue. But that was not the case.

I had last week off training with the flu, then i trained on Saturday and injured my neck. I know it sounds like I’m making excuses but it's what happened, the thought actually crossed my mind about not going to gradings at all but then i thought fuck it. I'll just get some cold and flu tabs for this bloody flu and take some nurofen for my neck and I’ll get through. Yeah i got through but not how i had wanted to.
The night started with some slow rolling with one of my fellow 4 stripers Josh we traded some positions and had a good couple of warm up rolls. Then i rolled with Julian a good level Blue belt. We started slow but then bang! We went at it hard. After that roll i was rooted. After a couple more rolls at a slower pace Ryan got us to line up in our belt rankings. At our gym you don't know when you are going for your belt, but when your name gets called out you better be ready for a beat down. So Ryan calls out Josh. Tom, and myself to the centre of the mat. I'd be lying if i said i wasn't nervous. I was not nervous about my skills not being there i was more nervous that my body would fail me and I’d be a floppy fat grappling dummy after one fast paced roll. I didn't want to embarrass my self.
It didn't fail me after one or two or even four but half way through the fifth one i knew i didn't have much left and after the seventh i don't really remember much. I remember fighting to get Leighs(Ryans bro and kick arse purple belt) knee off my face, neck or sternum. I remember tapping to Ryans many slick armbars and i remember Ryans coach and black belt Mat Cooper being the heaviest thing I’ve ever felt on top of me. Then that was it. I’d made it through 10 x 4or5min hard rounds with no breaks.
We lined up again. I could barely suck in air because my lung was so tight from the flu and my neck was starting to cramp up. Ryan said some nice words about all three of us as we received our belts, but because i was so shagged i can't recall what he said. But i do remember him saying that Tom, one of my team mates who got his blue tonight, is an inspiration. And he most definitely is. The guy is no spring chicken (sorry Tom) but the way he grinded his way to his blue belt was very inspiring. I hope he doesn't mind but this is what he just put up on his facebook.
"I'm too sore to sleep. I want to let my brothers (and sister) know how grateful I am to my instructors, my daytime training partners, and to all of you that have helped me in my journey. From whatever walks of life we may come from - at Advance Martial Arts - we all walk together in the same direction. I'm proud to be a member - and can't thank you enough for helping me become a better person."
I think that gives you some idea of the mans character. A true martial artist. Congratulations Tom!!

So even as i type this I’m starting to feel a bit more at ease at being blue. I’m now going to work my arse off to prove that this is my rank. I think the best way to do that is to train hard, get in great shape and compete at my best.
The journey continues!!

Your boy blue


Saturday, September 4, 2010


So after over a year of no posts, i've decided to have another crack at the whole blogging thing. I think i was a bit overwhelmed at the start, trying to relay every thing that was happening with my training.
So i'm making a commitment now to post something at least every month. I may talk about what is happening on the mat in my gym or i may just throw up some cool stuff i find inspiring to share.

My training has been going well, i've competed in two grappling comps now and all though i was not happy with how i performed, i did improve. I feel when i next compete i'll step up and compete at my best.
Comps are a great way to see how your game is progressing. You have to use all your techniques combined with cardio and your ability to control nerves. My first comp i had very little technique and suffered because of that. My second comp i feel i had technique there but i was almost too calm and got out muscled in a couple of matches. I was taking it like i was in the gym just having a roll but comps are a big step up from that and i will implement a whole different game plan in in the future. All though i was not happy with my self in the second comp i did win 2 of my 4 matches and came in 3rd in the Gi and NoGi.

I'm now a 4 stripe white belt. And i still travel the 2 hour round trip to my gym in caloundra 2-3 times a week. Apart from some time off when i had some floating cartlidge removed from my old bung knee, i've been very consistent.
My game has really stated to develop in the last 2-3 months. I try to play a flowing game on top rather than use my weight and smash. I'm on average about 20-30kg heavier than my training partners, so squishing them into the mat is not going to help my game at all. I play alot with sitting guard and half guard. I find i have alot of options from there for sweeps and taking the back. My submission game from bottom is not great, i think it is the biggest whole in my game right now, oh and my cardio. I can roll for a long time nowadays but not at the pace i want to keep.
So i'm starting to implement a plan to help me fill those two gaps in my game. Firstly i'm going to get my weight down.

When i first started BJJ in late January 2009 i was 122kg fat.

Check out my fat arse in these pics above, taken after my first training run late January 2009 at AdvanceSC Caloundra.

I've got my weight down to around 109kg at the moment but i think i need to get down under the 100kg mark. In my next post or two i'll go into more detail my weightloss plan and my progress on submissions from the bottom.

I'll leave todays blog with some words from Saulo Ribeiro. His Philosophy on Jiu Jitsu has been an inspiration to me and is very similar to my coach Ryans out look on jits. One of my bjj goals is to get to train with him and his brother in San Diego.